Neda, Protest, and Pop Art

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Through all the coverage of the protests taking place in Iran, the impression of power and horror implicit in the clash of the masses versus the elite has had a profound impact on all watchers.

The use of the internet and mobile phones to keep the protests moving had been the bane of Iranian authorities and inspiration for supporters of justice all over the world.

Naturally, my fixation is for the visual, and the imagery coming from these events has been very powerful. There has yet to be a single image that encapsulates the feel of the movement such as the man confronting a tank at Tienamen Square, but the proliferation of imagery, particularly video and web imagery has been impressive.

On of the most prominent sights so far has been footage of a woman called Neda. The world has witnesses her passing, shot through the heart by a carefully-aimed government bullet. For many, it put an individual face on a distant movement for freedom.

Almost as soon as it took place, the internet was reacting. In art terms, one of the cleverest things to come out of it was the custom avatars. This pop art has astounding immediacy which is not only an indictment of Iranian authorities but a call to a wider audience. Including people who had previously been sitting on the sidelines and complete outsiders who now feel they can show their support.

Although I have been impressed with the media coverage, one thing bothers me. Some very graphic images have been aired of these protests and violence in Iran, but images of carnage that might make the U.S. or an ally of the U.S. look bad are chronically censored.

The recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict was reported on in pro-Western media with virtually no blood. The Iraqi and Afghanistan wars have also been presented bloodlessly. Such sanitization of war does no service to the U.S. If the citizenry new the real horror of war, they would not let it happen so idly.

[I apologize for the lack of accompanying images. I can't upload any right now, so I'll have to edit this article at a later date.]


Martha said...

A thought provoking post indeed. I particularly agree with your sentiments on the sanitizing of war.

Cecile/DreamCreateRepeat said...

I sympathize with your sentiments, but am not sure I agree.

The first "visual" war was the Civil War and people were gripped and horrified by the carnage.

The Spanish-American war followed on its heals.

The first ww was also photographed extensively -- amid criticism at the time -- and people declared it the war to end all wars.

WWII followed soon after.

The horrors of WWI and the Holocaust have been vividly captured and documented.

Am I seeing a trend.

We are a bloody race and I don't think exposure to our carnage is making a dent. Actually, I wonder if it desensitizes us.

I wish I knew a solution......

tori said...

For sure I never believed that seeing carnage would prevent or halt war. But it is nevertheless important to at least be responsible enough not to wear a blindfold when dealing with the subject.

Did you know however that the earliest known civilization found in South America survived for about 2k years without any signs of having had a single war? The notion that we are destined to have war is defeatist.

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